Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday the U.S. was imposing visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials believed to be responsible for restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.
Pompeo’s statement condemned China for “eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms” and stated that the visa restrictions applied to “current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.” The statement, however, did not state which specific officials would be affected by the move.
President @realDonaldTrump promised to punish the CCP officials responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking action to do just that– we’ve announced visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 26, 2020
The secretary also added in his statement that the security law violates the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which enshrined Hong Kong’s autonomy before the United Kingdom handed the city over to China in 1997.
President Donald Trump has turned up pressure on China in recent months over trade and security issues, Reuters reported. Opinion polls also show voters have soured on China, largely due to the coronavirus, according to Pew Research Center polling in April.
The State Department’s latest move comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China over the status of Hong Kong, which is considered an autonomous territory. After more than a year of pro-democracy protests in the city, China voted in May to impose a national security law that some experts say would strip Hong Kong of its freedoms and autonomy.
In response, Pompeo declared in late May that the U.S. was ending its preferential trade agreement with Hong Kong. The American and British delegations to the United Nations also brought the issue before the U.N. Security Council.
The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Thursday that imposes sanctions on individuals and companies that support restricting Hong Kong’s autonomy, Reuters reported. (RELATED: Hong Kong Is Proof America Needs To Wake Up To The US-China Cold War, China Expert Says)
Big moment today on floor of US Senate as we are finally able to adopt clear condemnation of #China’s “national security law” cracking down on #HongKong. Today Senate speaks with one voice: China imperialism will not go unchallenged pic.twitter.com/yXhsfNEMHj
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 25, 2020
The Chinese government has argued that China’s constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law gives China full sovereignty over the territory. In a press conference earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended the law and demanded that foreign countries not interfere in “Hong Kong’s return to the motherland.”